Archer, IA, Retail Associate Richard Ludeke was off duty on a spring day two years ago when catastrophe struck:
He and his wife, Miriam, were traveling in their vehicle on Iowa Highway 60 in Carnes when they witnessed a collision that left a 21-year-old motorist, Mindi Wikstrom, fighting for her life in a ditch.
The Ludekes immediately stopped and called 911, then rushed to Wikstrom’s car to assist other passersby struggling to free her.
Richard, an Army veteran who trained as a combat physician assistant, made sure Wikstrom’s airway was clear so she wouldn’t drown in her own blood, and he used clothing items to stanch bleeding from several major cuts until a helicopter arrived to take her to a hospital.
After spending two weeks in a medically induced coma, Wikstrom started a long period of recovery and physical therapy.
She went on to run a half-marathon that fall, and last year, she graduated from college and reunited with the Ludekes at the site of the accident to thank them in person.
“It’s amazing to be part of her life journey,” Richard told a local newspaper, which covered his recognition in November as a 2020 Governor’s Lifesaving Award recipient.
The ceremony, delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, is expected to be held later this year.